Many years ago, I had a manager who gave me the following feedback during my annual performance review: “The problem with you, Cassie, is that you care too much. If you want to progress to an executive position, you really have to learn to care less.”
He did not deliver this feedback in a patronising or mean way. He genuinely felt he was sharing his secret to success with me.
Fortunately, I was clear in my core values – zest, honesty and kindness. And I know that for me, trying to care less about the work I do and the people I do it with is about as realistic as trying not to feel hungry at lunchtime. Thanks to this self-awareness, I was able to respectfully deflect this well-meaning but ill-informed advice. I am happy to report I moved on to become a caring global executive.
Being empathetic and caring is part of our essential nature.
If you are working in an environment where you feel you need to lock your heart away for safekeeping – consider the cost of staying.
Supressing any element of our essential nature for extended periods of time makes us sick.
A new study on the power of empathy confirmed that empathy is innate.
The study also found that when leaders display empathy at work it has many positive ripple effect including; increased innovation, engagement, retention and inclusion.
86% of the people in the study with an empathetic leaders said they are able to navigate the demands of their work and life – successfully juggling their personal, family and work obligations. This is compared with 60% of those who perceived less empathy.
Self-Fidelity Practice To Play With This Week
Whist the world may have conditioned us to harden our hearts, especially at work, we can all reconnect with our innate caring and empathetic nature.
Honouring our desire to care and be empathetic at work can form part of our self-fidelity practice.
This week I invite you to flex your empathy muscle with someone who may benefit from your care.
You might like to practice cognitive empathy by asking yourself: “If I were in his/her position, what would I be thinking right now?”
Alternatively, you can practice emotional empathy by asking “Being in his/her position would make me feel… ”
Once you have connected with the another persons thoughts or feelings, you can take the crucial step of doing something to show you care. Simply letting someone else know that you see them, that you care and that you are there for them can make a huge difference. If you feel called to go one step further, you might ask: “How might I best support you right now?”.
“The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.” Brother David Steindl-Rast
I create Hello Monday Morning to give generously and give often to a growing global community of self-fidelity pioneers. My weekly posts share small yet mighty self-fidelity practices to uplift working life. Subscribe here and get the first two chapters of my book Self-Fidelity for free.